In Brasília, in early May, the Centre of Excellence against Hunger – a partnership between the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Brazilian government – held a workshop on nutrition.
Guest researchers are held debates on eating standards and the dizzying rise in ultra-processed food in Brazil. According to the Michele Lessa, who represented the Ministry of Health at the debate, this topic is currently the biggest public health challenge in the country, since it is related to an increase in obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
It was mentioned at the conference that the damage of an unbalanced diet has an enormous impact, especially in low income communities; however, regions with a high rate of development are also not immune to this problem.
It is believed that heart disease, cancer and diabetes account for over half of the deaths in Brazil and unhealthy eating habits are the main causes for growth in these illnesses in society.
The debate was not only aimed at reflecting on the quality of food, but also on the significant results that Brazilian nutrition is showing in fighting malnutrition and other challenges today, such as obesity and excessive weight.
During the event, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) discussed research in Brazil on biofortification – a natural genetic evolution technique that raise the micronutrient content in zucchini, rice, beans, cowpeas, cassava, corn, sweet potatoes and wheat and which could improve the quality of the Brazilian diet.
At the workshop, the director of the Centre of Excellence against Hunger, Daniel Balaban, highlighted the importance of sharing experiences and lessons learned with other countries, to therefore find solutions to these problems that the country is experiencing.
Institute based on current topics – One of the programs at International Paper Institute discussing the theme of healthy eating is Nature and Body. The program, which started in 2013 in the city of Três Lagoas (MS), is aimed at restoring cultural standards in order to raise awareness and engage young people with healthy and sustainable practices.
The program carries out activities with 6th to 9th grade students, who discover the importance of a healthy diet and enjoy a community garden located at the school. These young people therefore become protagonists in conserving and growing plants.
For 2017, the project plans to expand the gardens installed at participating institutions in order to grow production and distribution to the local community and other schools in the region.
The program works with proposals aimed at reflecting on the environment and food sustainability around the world. This work contributes to these young people’s education as well as to the environmental conservation of the planet.